DEPRESSION: How Brain Starvation is a Major Factor
The clinical definition for depression is based on the following criteria:
1. Either weight loss due to poor appetite or weight gain with increased appetite
2. Physical inactivity or hyperactivity
3. Decreased interest in activities or low sex drive
4. Hypersomnia or insomnia
5. Energy loss or fatigue
6. Inappropriate guilt or feeling worthless
7. Loss of concentration or reduced ability to think
8. Death or suicide thoughts that are reoccurring
With the presence of 5 of these symptoms, there is a definite indication of depression. An individual with 4 symptoms could be depressed too. You would definitely need to see a qualified doctor to be diagnosed. There are lifestyle changes that may help an individual develop a more positive mental attitude.
1. Exercise regularly
2. Practice stress reduction/relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga pose or meditation for 10-15 minutes every day
3. Laughter is a great medicine, so watch a hilarious movie or laugh with a friend
4. Goal setting
5. Seek help from a mental health professional
You eat food anyway, so make sure it's the right food. Bump up that fibre from fibre-rich plants like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains. A build up of toxins due to a backed-up elimination process (CONSTIPATION) is never a good thing. You need to avoid stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other stimulants. There is a good supplement protocol that is helpful like vitamin C, E, flaxseed oil, folic acid and B12. According to Natural Alternatives to Prozac, St. John's wort can be just as effective as prescribed antidepressant drugs like Prozac and without the side effects. Of course, you should never take St. John's Wort with antidepressants as there are reports of negative consequences.
Let's talk nutrition, as this is my specialty. It is time you fed your brain with optimal nutrition, so you can prevent and/or stop suffering from unnecessary mental health problems. What is the best brain food? That would be carbohydrates because glucose is the most important nutrient for the nervous system and the brain. Humans need fuel, glucose is our fuel. In a way, humans are solar-powered because we eat plants that collect energy from the sun and then break the Sun's energy down into glucose. The Sun's energy is burned in all of our cells. The brain actually consumes more glucose than any organ, close to 40% of all the carbs you eat. Of course these are complex carbohydrates and not simple carbs like refined sugar, white bread and white rice.
We can make energy from the 3 macronutrients; carbohydrates, protein and fat. When an individual decides they are going to consume little carbohydrates, energy is made from burning fat and protein. The problem here becomes the buildup of toxins in the body because protein and fat are a 'smoke' fuel and carbohydrates are 'smokeless'. Unfortunately, individuals go on low carb diets and have no idea what internal problems they are creating because the information is not out there.
Did you know... if all the water was squeezed from your brain that 60% of the dry weight of your brain would be made up of fat! These fats are consistently being replenished, so continual consumption in extremely cruitial for your brain health. The brain and nervous system depend on cholesterol, Omega 3 (EPA and DHA), Omega 6 (GLA), saturated and monounsaturated fat. Omegas need to be refilled through the diet, whereas cholesterol, saturated and monounsaturated can be made within the body.
Essential Fat Deficient Test
Poor memory/difficult concentrating
Dry, unmanageable hair or dandruff
Dry/rough skin or eczema
Brittle, soft or easily frayed nails
Excessive thirst/frequent urination
PMS or breast tenderness
Inflammatory problems (arthritis)
High blood pressure or lipids
Slow wound healing
Phobias, fears, night terrors
Obsessive or compulsive behaviour
Anxiety or depression
Suffer from motion sickness
Have fits or convulsions
You are more than likely to be deficient in essential fats if you answered "yes" to 4 or more of these symptoms. Of course, a blood test would give you a precise way to know what you are lacking in essential fats.
A deficiency in amino acids can cause depression and lack of motivation. The amino acid tryptophan has been proven to been proven more effective than antidepressant drugs. Amino acids come from protein and almost all neurotransmitters are made from protein. The main neurotransmitters for depression is serotonin, which is responsible for keeping you happy, getting rid of the blues and improving your mood.
W. Poldinger et al., "A functional-dimensional approach to depression: serotonin deficiency and target syndrome in a comparison of 5-hydroxytryptophan and fluvoxamine, Psychopathology, Vol 24(2), 1991, pp.53-81.
D. Benton, "The impact of the supply of glucose to the brain on mood and memory," Nutr Rev, Vol 59 (1Pt 2), 2001, p. S20-1.
D. Horrobin et al., "Essential fatty acids, prostaglandins and schizophrenia," Proceedings of the World Congress of Psychiatry, October 1989.
Holford, Patrick. New Optimum Nutrition For The Mind. Basic Health Publications, Inc., Laguna Beach, CA; 2001.